Telluride Venture Accelerator Enters its 4th Year: The Business Accelerator is Making a Significant Impact on the Region

  • Published
  • On November 4, 2015
picture of fresh Monsters

Telluride, Colo. (Nov. 4, 2015):  90 mentors have their reading glasses on reviewing more than 120 applications for the fourth class of entrepreneurs/companies for the Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA). Each finalist team will receive a $30,000 investment in exchange for a 5% equity stake.  Additionally, more than $100k in perks is available to teams through TVA’s relationships with the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and affiliate partners. TVA accepts up to six companies per session (February – June 2016).  TVA’s impact on the region has been measurable and our community of mentors is looking forward to welcoming the next cohort in early 2016.

To date TVA’s impacts on the region include:

  • Helping to raise $9 million for 15 participating companies and 3 “TVA Partner” companies.
  • Since TVA’s start, 7 new, high growth businesses are calling the Telluride region home, where they are expanding and hiring locally.
  • A locally based venture capital fund – TVA’s activities helped pave the way for the formation of the Telluride Venture Fund (TVF has now invested in 50% of TVA graduating companies).
  • The world’s largest law firm, Dentons, has started a dedicated legal tech incubator/accelerator in partnership with TVA based out of the Peaks Hotel in the Mountain Village.
  • Recently, several TVA mentors have come together to form “Entrepreneur Meetups” that are helping to build a sense of community amongst local business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • Two Startup Weekends have been held in the Telluride region
  • We estimate that TVA has generated more than $25 million in local economic activity.
  • Soon we expect to announce the formation of the region’s first co-working space.


“TVA is looking forward to welcoming another cohort to town in early 2016 and we are grateful to the Telluride and Mountain Village communities for the support to date, “ said Jesse Johnson, co-founder of Telluride Venture Accelerator.

Below are a few of the highlights from past TVA participating companies:

High Desert Farms (2013 cohort),  based in Grand Junction, Colorado, is natural and organic food company offering consumers great-tasting healthy premium dried fruit snacks called “Froodles” and sourcing all of its fruit regionally from the Colorado Plateau.  Most recently, Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage will start selling Froodles in all of their stores (100) starting the first of the
year. https://froodles.com/

Awestruck Medical (2014 cohort) is a Telluride-based company developing and commercializing the JawDropper, a device that reduces the discomfort and pain experienced by millions of dental patients undergoing routine procedures. This will improve the total care experience and increase the dentist’s productivity by shortening procedure time. The Company has just launched production of the 1.5 version that will improve the suction of the original device.  Currently there are 210 dental practices using the JawDropper in 36 states and 3 countries.  The British Society of Dental Hygienists will be doing a study and paper on the new JawDropper 1.5 in the first quarter of 2016 prior to the launch of sales in the UK.  https://www.awestruckmedical.com/

Fresh Monster (2014 cohort) is the first mass brand of USDA Organic certified hair care for kids (ages 3-9) that is affordable, has a simple ingredient list, and utilizes an creative design to engage and excite kids. Co-Founders Jean Sim and Irena Todd continue to deliver on their mission to bring toxin-free, affordable haircare to all families.  In a very short period of time, Fresh Monster has gone from concept to solid sales traction.  They are now available in over 500 stores nationally including Target and Amazon.com (where they are one of the top selling shampoos).


Mountain Drones (2015 cohort) utilizes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and state-of-the-art sensors to measure crucial water-related environmental data and perform avalanche mitigation.  The company is riding a wave of momentum into the winter with many recent media posts around their avalanche mitigation technology by Outside Magazine, Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Forbes Japan and others.  Multiple ski resorts have expressed strong interest in utilizing Mountain Drones technology for the upcoming ski season, with an improved industry standard just around the corner.  Mountain Drones is filing IP accordingly with the advancements of proprietary technology.  The company, alongside Boise State University, continues to work on the interfacing of the Snow Water Equivalent Sensor and will be the first company in the world to extract this data using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.  www.mountaindrones.net


The Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA), a program of the Telluride Foundation (a 501(c)(3) community foundation), invests human and financial capital in innovative enterprises with the aim of building and strengthening the entrepreneurial community in the Telluride region to create a self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem bringing innovation, jobs, ideas and a renewed dynamism. TVA combines an unparalleled setting with world-class mentors and an outstanding investor community to provide a 5 month residential business accelerator program.  During the program companies benefit from over 1,000 hours of mentor time; are guided through building and testing their business model; develop their operational plan and prepare for fundraising. Throughout the program, special attention is given to developing founders as entrepreneurial leaders. After 5 months companies will have validated their business model and will present to Telluride’s unique investment community – including Demo Day in Telluride and roadshows in Boulder/Denver and San Francisco.